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Essential Waterproof Clothing for Women Who Travel

What do these three places - Emei Shan in China, Big Bog on Maui and Debundscha in Cameroon - have in common?

They are among the wettest on the planet and if you go, you'll need some solid waterproof clothing and rain gear. (Juneau, Bergen and Singapore don't do too badly either.)

PLEASE NOTE: Every effort is made to keep articles up to date but the changing coronavirus situation has made it impossible to provide information about the pandemic or travel restrictions. You'll find updated information from the CDC about travel conditions by country but please check all appropriate sources before you travel as situations can change in minutes. 

People crossing a bridge in a flood - not all have waterproof clothingYou never know when you might need waterproof clothing...

If you're heading into occasional rain, chances are you can pick up what you need at your destination. In Milan last weekend, it poured but there was brisk business with umbrella sales on every street corner.

If you're bound for the land of downpours, you might consider taking along some of the items below. Then you’ll probably need some kind of rain gear to keep you from getting wet -- and staying miserable -- on your travels.

Let's face it, it’s no fun walking around in wet and soggy clothes because you didn’t plan ahead. Unless you brought fast-drying clothes, you might be squishing around for days.

And if you're sightseeing, you certainly don’t want to let a little (or a lot) of rain keep you from seeing the sights. If you're prepared, you'll have no problem  walking around Stonehenge in a downpour.

great rain gear recommendations

Other than the cutesy name, the Columbia Women’s Pardon My Trench Coat jacket is a great, lightweight option made with slick waterproof nylon. It won't do if you expect a chill in the air, but you could always layer it over a couple sweaters.

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Like the Columbia coat, the BGSD Women's "Leah" Hooded Trench Coat isn’t going to keep you warm in the winter, but it’s a great fall or spring jacket that’s stylish and timeless. It comes with a hood -- a must-have in the rain. Careful though - it doesn’t repel rain so it’s not great for a downpour, but you’ll stay dry in a city drizzle.

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Mac in a Sac

What I love about this Mac in a Sac Elle Women's Waterproof Packable Jacket is just what it says - it's packable, right into its own little compact bag, so great for travel. Its hood folds away and it's waterproof. Just stick it into your bag when clouds threaten: it's light, the fabric breathes and it keeps you dry.

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This completely waterproof North Face Women's Resolve Jacket comes in plenty of colors. The hood folds into the collar, the zipper is covered to keep you dry, and the hood and base have adjustable drawstrings, great in bad weather. This too is a shell, not a winter coat, so bring items for layering if it’s cold.

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The Totes Unisex Rain Poncho is your standard, reusable poncho. Unlike the “one and done” kind, this poncho is made from a thicker plastic to hold up over multiple uses, and easily folds back into it’s mesh package. And it has a decent-length hood and sleeves.

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The Repel Easy Touch Travel Umbrella is a compact umbrella that will stand up against high winds and comes with a lifetime warranty. The fabric forces water to bead and drip off it, so it dries faster. Plus, you can open and close it with just one finger!

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If you don't like the hassle of an umbrella, this Scala Classico Women's Waterproof rain hat waterproof nylon hat and your hood will make a great team. The bucket-hat shape is stylish, it comes in multiple colors, and you can fold it up and stuff it in a corner of your bag when not needed.

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This is by no means the most stylish option, but if umbrellas aren’t your cup of tea and your rain coat hood tends to fly off, the La Mart Rain Bonnet can keep your head dry and your hair in place even in windy conditions. Plus, it folds into a compact, pocket-sized clump you can tuck into your rain jacket.

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The worst thing about rain boots is the space they take up in your luggage, so these Baffin Women's Packables Rain Boots are a perfect option. The boots come in four colors (including duck yellow!) and fold into the included zipper pouch so you can tuck them in your bag without dirtying your other clothes.

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These Reusable Waterproof shoe covers are somewhere between adorable and ridiculous, but if space is an issue (and it always is) these might be your best friend in a surprise rainstorm. They won't be your primary rain boots but they're fun to keep dry in a pinch.

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If you’re headed out hiking or going backpacking, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for rainfall. The OUTAD Waterproof Backpack Rain Cover allows water to roll right off your backpack and once the rain ends, it folds up into a compact carrying case, ready for the sunshine. 

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Still not sure what rain clothes to take? Here are a few things to think about...

Rain coat or winter coat?

If you're travelling to a cold climate, consider taking a waterproof winter coat instead of a lightweight rain jacket - you’ll need a coat to stay warm anyway. But in any other situation, look for a rain jacket that’s completely waterproof, has a hood and will dry off quickly once you’re out of the downpour. Of course, consider your location: If you’ll be in a city where you can quickly duck into a storefront, maybe a trench coat will be enough, but if you’re hiking a mountainside, you’ll need something durable and resilient.

The perfect poncho

Ponchos are best for those unexpected rainy situations. If the weather report looks positive, a compact one to tuck in the bottom of your bag will do the trick when you go out. They aren’t stylish or particularly durable, but they’ll keep you from soaking through. Look for one made from a thicker plastic or rubber that has a drawstring hood and long “sleeves.”

An umbrella? Maybe, maybe not

It’s worth spending a little more on a good umbrella. We've all had - and cursed - the $5 flimsy jobbie that breaks with the first gust of wind. Look for something compact (you don’t want something cumbersome dangling from your arm all day) and that opens and closes easily. An umbrella does take up a spare hand, however, and you might need it to take photographs or hang on to your bag. So if you have a decent coat and hat, consider leaving the umbrella home. 

These boots...

Even the most compact pair will take up valuable space so unless the weather forecast calls for rain all month, think twice about taking a pair along (and if you do, wear them on the plane so you don't have to pack them). Foldable is the way to go, and remember to bring some thicker socks or gel insoles. Rain boots are uncomfortable and sweaty.

A rain hat

A good rain hat should ideally have a wide brim and be made from waterproof material. You’ll want something you can fold up easily, and something that stays on your head when it gets windy. A drawstring under your neck will work, as will wearing a hat under your hood for extra protection.

Do you need protection for your luggage?

If you've got a carryon bag, it might already be waterproof. If not, frankly, a good trash bag will get it from A to B without soaking everything inside. If you're backpacking, that's a bit different and you'll need to keep it dry. A drawstring cover is a good option if the seams are protected from rain. 

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